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Packers Blown Away By Navy Trip

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    Ask any of the Green Bay Packers who spent Super Bowl weekend aboard the USS Harry S. Truman in the mid-Atlantic what the experience was like, and the immediate response is one word.

    Awesome.

    "That might be the understatement of the year," quarterback Ingle Martin said. "I don't think we can describe it."

    Martin, Todd Bouman, William Henderson, Dave Rayner, Noah Herron and assistant equipment manager Tom Bakken all traveled to the Truman, a Navy aircraft carrier, to spend Super Bowl weekend with the sailors. The trip was arranged by Bakken through the Navy's Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, and for this group of civilians the roughly 1 1/2 days off-shore was simply non-stop action.

    Flying out to sea in a plane that landed by hooking to the carrier was just the introduction to Navy life. Slowing down from around 130 miles an hour to a standstill in roughly two seconds is a tremendous jolt to the body, even for professional football players.

    "The first thing you hear is this tremendously loud scraping, like metal on metal, that's 10 times worse than fingernails on a chalkboard, and that's the hook dragging on the deck and grabbing a wire," Bakken said. "Then you hear this loud banging when the hook catches and your wheels slam onto the deck. What they call it is a controlled crash, and then all of a sudden you stop and it's over."

    Only that was just the beginning. All the Packers, who were joined by a group of New England Patriots' cheerleaders, met the ship's officers and department heads, toured virtually every area of the expansive carrier, and learned as much about life at sea as they could.

    "It was incredible," Rayner said. "It was first class from the minute we got there. They took care of us like we were royalty. It opened my eyes to the Navy and what they do. The time and energy they put into their jobs is 10 times what we do in football."

    Part of the afternoon on Saturday, after landing and getting settled in, was spent on the flight deck, watching various landings and take-offs, some from the very end of the ship. At times, the players were standing no more than 20 or 30 feet from planes whizzing past them at 150 miles an hour. Rayner videotaped much of it, while Herron took a few turns as the "shooter," who crouches down near the planes lined up in the catapult and signals for them to take off.

    "That was by far the best thing I've ever done," Herron said. "There's a routine you have to go through, checking everybody, and then you send him on his way, and they went right over my head. It was awesome."

    The players also got to see the testing of an F-18 engine, and they ate meals with everyone from the top officers to the lowest-ranking sailors over the course of the weekend. Bouman, Henderson and Bakken even got haircuts at the ship's barber shop.

    "It's amazing, it's just like a little city on that aircraft carrier," Martin said. "They told us no matter where it is, it's four acres of U.S. territory. It was neat to see everything they include on that thing.

    "Being a part of that life for two days, everything it included, was the neatest part. To get in their way of life and see what their culture was all about was really exciting."

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    As for the Super Bowl "party," a gigantic screen was set up in the ship's hangar bay, along with other smaller screens, to watch the game. Despite a strong crosswind through the hangar bay, Bouman and Martin tossed the football around with some sailors.

    On the stage in front of the big screen, the cheerleaders provided some entertainment, and the players took turns throwing footballs, shirts and other souvenirs into the crowd for the sailors to grab.

    That was followed by one of many autograph sessions while everyone aboard enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, chips, popcorn and other food during the game.

    Then Monday morning, following breakfast, the players bid farewell to the ship's officers, who presented them with certificates and flight suits while the players gave them golf shirts and footballs.

    "Every one of them said, 'Thanks for coming, we really appreciate you being here,' but it was the other way around," Bakken said. "We were so happy we were there and so thankful for what they do for us.

    "It really made me proud to be an American. There is such a positive, positive attitude with these folks. They're happy to be there, happy to do what they do."

    The trip in essence concluded with another once-in-a-lifetime moment, getting strapped into an aircraft and catapulted back to shore.

    Bakken said the sailors told them all weekend about the take-off and what kind of rush it provides. With arms crossed and chin tucked, facing backwards, and leaning into the shoulder straps to minimize any whiplash effect, the passengers felt the plane catapulted along the flight deck from zero to 150 miles an hour in 2 1/2 seconds, and off they went.

    "It's over before it starts, it seems like," Bakken said. "Everything is in fast forward, and then you're fine."

    The entire experience is unforgettable but still difficult to put into words. As NFL players the sailors were thrilled to meet, the Packers returned with a different perspective.

    "People think athletes are all these big-time people, and when you meet them, there's kind of a letdown because they're just normal," Herron said. "But we went out there, and the military people were even more extraordinary than we thought.

    "We had a dinner and I was telling the captain and the executive officer, 'You guys are the real heroes. You guys fight for what everybody believes in, and we don't get to see the work you guys do. No cameras come out here on Sundays to film you guys.'

    "It was a humbling experience, but it was a great one. The whole thing was about a morale boost, but they boosted our morale just as much as we did theirs."
     
  2. paxvogel

    paxvogel Cheesehead

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    Great post. Thank you.
     
  3. kmac

    kmac Cheesehead

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    Pretty cool stuff
     
  4. Raider Pride

    Raider Pride Cheesehead

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    Jeese.

    If I would have known they get to do that kind of stuff, I would have played for the Packers last year.

    I wonder why they would pair up Packer players with Patriot Cheerleaders?

    Raider Pride.
     
  5. CaliforniaCheez

    CaliforniaCheez Cheesehead

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    Having spent months on board a carrier without a port call in 2003 of the coast of Iraq and Iran, I can tell you the noise can be real bothersome.

    Not only jets but pumps, fans, venitaltion, elevators, people working 24 hours. Every other night I had enough time off to watch a movie or some television. Every 1/2 hour you had to degause the television because radars severely screwed up the color. Not that many work on the flight deck so most were inside and very white and untanned by the MidEast sun.

    I only saw one plane go over the side of the ship and both guys ejected out safely. I slept two feet from tons of bombs overhead for the upcoming missions, jet fuel tanks on the other side of one wall(bulkhead) and more ammunition on the other and above the machinary spaces.

    Landing on the carrier is not so bad. Like a carwreck you strain against the seatbelt and it is over quickly. Getting catapulted off is weird on the body as you accelerate rapidly into the seat it takes a little time for you stomach to catch up.

    An aircraft carrier is a fun place to visit but you would not want to live there. Decades of learning experience puts a lot of activity in a very small space(they are only a 1000 feet long). Yet it can take weeks to learn your way around as you mostly know where you work, where you sleep, and where you eat because you do little else.
     
  6. CaliforniaCheez

    CaliforniaCheez Cheesehead

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    By the way, An aircraft carrier is nice for anti-terrorism duty because they are off the coast out of sight but can launch immediately and get where needed with minimal interaction with civilian aircraft/control in the area.
     
  7. retiredgrampa

    retiredgrampa Cheesehead

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    I was lucky when in the navy I was assigned to Air Stations rather than carriers. I say "lucky" because I didn't have to work 12 hrs/day, seven days a week. How they do it, I don't know. I watched a documentary about the USS Ronald Reagan the other day. The only crew that works only 6 day weeks is the laundry crew. Submarine crews have the same work schedules. These are truly dedicated people as only volunteers can be all the time.
     

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